Pedalling to Nirvana – part 4.2 (Montana)

A North American Bicycle Journey

I pedalled my way from Key West, Florida to Tok, Alaska. What I wrote in my journal is what I was thinking and feeling at the time, it’s just a reflection of who I am, my own personal opinions, my own perceptions, and written exactly as I saw the world around me at that particular moment.

Why I did it? That is what most people ask, and you know, it is not a simple answer. One of my thoughts was to really do something with my life and truly live. Experience the world around me before I shuffle off the mortal coil.

The story continues from:

Pedalling to Nirvana – part 4.1 (Wyoming-Montana)

DAY 71 – May 24, 1999

I woke up early while everyone else was asleep. Finding my way upstairs, I found some bike magazines to read in the upstairs living room. Jock, the 4th roommate, (and yes it’s spelled correctly) got in very late from his job as a nurses aide at the hospital, so I’ve yet to meet him. Chris got up shortly after me and asked if I wanted some pancakes. “Yeah, that would be great” I said and thanked him for offering. He fixed two giant wheat pancakes with almonds and berries. Mmmmm, good stuff!! Kristen opted for a bowl of cereal and after eating, she drove me around so I could purchase some stuff for my bike. First we went to Adventure Cycling where I met Paul. He was a bit taller than me, wore a Carrhart hat and had eyeglasses similar to mine. He showed me the racks and panniers. They didn’t have the Ortlieb waterproof panniers I was looking for. But he did show me an Ortlieb waterproof bag for the B.O.B. trailer. It was something like $90.00 and my $2.00 tablecloth has yet to leak a drop of water. What I was interested in were the booties to waterproof my shoes. They had some for warmer weather and a pair that zipped up the side and had a Velcro strap to keep water from making its way into the shoe, but not walkable, bottom easily wears. The other pair was neoprene for 40 degrees and below and are a walkable pair that seem very durable. Paul was cool, he took time to show me everything. We talked about his experience hiking up the Appalachian trail.

 

Wanting to find the panniers, we drove to Open Road Cyclery, where I met Lyn, or Lin, or Lynn? Not sure how to spell his name, but he was very friendly. Hey, at least I remembered his name! Ya know I very bad at names :-) Anyway, they had a set of Ortlieb Backroller waterproof panniers for $145.00. I also got a Janna Rack for $40.00 pair of defeet socks for $8.50. My old Kokopelli defeet socks are getting warn out. After my purchases, and no sales tax :-), we drove to a health food store where I bought some bulk food for the road: Chips, papaya spears, raisins, and raspberry granola, $5.38 total. Next stop lunch! We stopped at Warden’s. Excellent!! Highly recommended! Good sandwiches with homemade bread and a good selection of vegetarian food too. We both got a different sandwich, one turkey the other a veggie. Then we went outside and sat at a table on the sidewalk. The day was incredibly nice and I still couldn’t get over all the people bikin’ everywhere. Along the sidewalks there were bike racks throughout the whole city. I was really beginning to like this place as we traded halves of sandwiches and talked about the town. Then Kristen rubbed her foot on my leg and winked at me…..Just Kidding!!! Her boyfriend Drew is reading this and I just wanted to get a reaction, Hee Hee!! :-)

 

After lunch we went to Wal-Mart where I found a 6 pack of powerbars for $4.85! Wow, that was an excellent deal. Kristen bought some large storage totes since she’s moving out in a couple of days. She will be in that ALA bike ride and didn’t want to pay rent somewhere while she’s away. I think she said it starts on June 14th. And she still doesn’t even know how she’s getting to Seattle. Of course, getting home from DC isn’t something she’s worried about yet. If anyone reading my journal is going on that ride, look for Kristen and say Hi to her :-) And what the hell, give her a hug and tell her how wonderful she is. If you saw the movie “Holy Man” you’d get the joke, hee hee…

 

When we got back to the house I met Jock as I attempted to install my rear rack. Unfortunately, I had the wrong adapters so Kristen and I went back to Open Road Cyclery for a larger size. This time I decided to get a better pump, one that is capable of fully inflating my tires. They had a Zefal HPX for $32.00 that says 160psi but that may be a little over rated. I was told it would definitely put in 90psi no problem. Also, I decided to get two new bottle cages which I later attached to each side on the rear of my B.O.B. trailer with hose clamps.

a-much-needed-bath

My last purchase was a new tube for the 16″ B.O.B. wheel. After we returned, I installed the rear rack and washed my bicycle for the first time since I began this trip. Then it was time for dinner….Pizza!! :-)

 

Kristen and I rode our bikes to McKenzie River Pizza Co. This is definitely excellent pizza and the micro-brewed cold beer on tap was the perfect thing to wash it down with. When we went to leave, I had a little difficulty with the lock but managed to open it. The thing has been through hell and it sticks sometimes. Next stop was at Cyber Shack to check my email real quick. When we tried to lock the bikes up, my lock would no longer open so I just wrapped the cable around them. Good thing this didn’t happen when they were locked together. I spend more time deleting the 50+ daily junk emails and find it difficult to read all of them let alone form any sort of a reply. It was very hot in there with most people playing games like Heretic II, Half Life, and Quake II.

 

Back at the house I messed with my bike some and Kristen used duct tape to tape up a pair of rain pants someone gave her for the trip. They looked at least 20 years old and after taping the many tears and holes, I think the predominant color changed from blue to the gray color of the tape :-)

 

By this time it was hmmmm, well past 11:00pm and we all went to sleep.

 

Today – 0 miles

 

DAY 72 – May 25, 1999

kristen

Chris made pancakes again this morning, wow I’m gonna have to stick around for awhile huh :) Kristen had to leave to take some of her stuff to put in storage while I hung around and talked to Teresa most of the morning. Jock gets up late morning, somewhere around 11 or 12 and appeared a bit grouchy. Must have been a late night for him.

 

In the afternoon I walked to the mall and had my film developed there. During the hour I had to kill I walked into Sears to look around. Now that’s what I need a big power saw! and a big generator hee hee. After passing through the tool section, I found electronics and found out that Sony now has 360x digital zoom. WOW that is a huge improvement in just the 4 months previous when I was looking at them. After about an hour I went back to the photo shop and talked to Matt a bit. He almost had me sold on getting a roll of slide film to give it a try but I decided to wait. Besides it would be too difficult and much more expensive for developing and getting prints for the web site.

 

Back at the house, I found Teresa and Kristen both there and we looked at my photos and then we were off to get stuff to grill out tonight. The three of us walked several blocks to the grocery store, which is cool that so many people either walk or ride bikes everywhere in this town. At the store we got chicken and all kinds of vegetables to make shish kabobs. Of course we had to get “Fat Tire Amber Ale” beer, since we all enjoy biking :) While Drew and Kristen monitored the grill, I started working on rotating my tires. The back was showing definite signs of wear but the front still looks excellent. After having both tires off it was time to eat. Of course there’s a bunch of minor details that passed the time but I’m in a hurry to get all this writing caught up since I’m a week behind :)

drew-and-i-on-the-trampoline

After we finished eating it was trampoline time woo hooo!! and yes there are some photos on the way of this :)

 

I then resigned to the garage, finished rotating my tires and cleaned and re-greased my old pump. Just like new! I have no need for two so I gave Kristen my old one.

 

That’s about it for now… Oh it was another incredibly nice sunny day with a high of 87 degrees :)

 

DAY 73 – May 26, 1999

I got up early and went upstairs as Teresa was trying to figure out the best route to take to Billings. This had been much of the discussion for yesterday. She has a job interview in Billings at 2pm and it is a 6 hour drive and back. She was wanting to find someone help her drive there and back since it is too much driving for one person in one day. Yesterday I had offered to delay my plans for leaving and help her drive since no one else would be able to, but she decided not to attempt driving all the way back and will get a motel room.

biking-through-missoula

 

As Teresa leaves Kristen appears in the kitchen and fixes both of us Oatmeal for breakfast. Then I headed for the garage to finish getting everything ready to hit the road. When I was done I helped Kristen carry her dresser out to her Pathfinder and then it was time for me to go :( Kristen gave me a quick hug goodbye and then I pedaled off as she was leaving too, this was about 9:15 am.

adventure-cycling-headquarters

 

I stopped at Open Road Cyclery and got another tube for my BOB since I pinched the other tube and didn’t feel like trying to fix it. Then I was off to Adventure Cycling to get those booties to go over my bike shoes. Paul was there and he showed me both of them again and I decided on the neoprene ones for cold weather. Although I may not see anymore cold weather like I’ve already been through, I decided “just in case”. Paul then took a Polaroid photo of me to ad to the wall of others they have from other cyclists passing through. Then I met Greg Siple, the co-founder and art director, he wanted to take a large black and white professional photo of me for the archives. The problem is that the light was wrong for the area he shoots in. It would have to be after 12:30 for the area to be shaded form direct sunlight. So I decided I could hang out a bit more, check my e-mail and have lunch. It was a good excuse for me not to leave anyway, I’m really beginning to like this town, has to be the best town on my trip so far. I rode a few blocks to Kinko’s and had to pay 20 cents a minute for net access. WOW that was expensive, needless to say I made it very quick. First I looked at my website and found out some newspaper articles had been scanned and posted there. After reading one in particular I was very upset!! What a #@$^%@#$%#! where does she get off misquoting me and saying crap like that. That stupid Q@#$%!#@$% AHHHH I hate it when people do crap like that, anything to make a story, it doesn’t matter if any of the facts are correct. The title was something like “Physical Therapist Fights Depression on Cross-Continent Bicycle Ride”. I think that’s what it was. First of all, I am not and have not been depressed. I mentioned the amount of depression in the field, what I have heard from other PT’s that have lost their jobs, and what is happening to the patients. Fortunately, I don’t have a lot of bills, was good at saving money so I could go a year without working, and I’m open to new choices in life. An e-mail I just checked while sitting here highlighted the “depression” as follows:

 

————————–

 

Friends and Colleagues;

I was lucky enough to be allowed to have today off, a sort of mental health day, a day to escape the madness of work. I awoke refreshed, grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to page through the latest Advance for PT’s magazine,(April 12th edition). For those of you who have this magazine, please refer to page 4, for those of you who don’t have it, please find it. This is a very disturbing article. In summary, it seems a middle aged woman, a Physical Therapist, married with two children and working in the nursing home setting for Vencor (Vencare), committed suicide back in December. The article states she may have been entering early menopause and going through hormonal imbalances, but also goes on to describe the great amount of stress she was under as a result of PPS. While her coworkers recalled that she often spoke of the impact that this stress was having on her, nobody seemed to think it would push her over the edge. We all talk about how these stresses are affecting us daily, so what was any different here? We have all undergone seemingly daily changes; reduction in hours, pay, choices as clinicians, challenges to our morals and ethics, and we have watched as one fellow employee after another is laid off, wondering if we will be next. We have had to drastically change our lifestyles as a result of reduced incomes of 10 to 30% over a 9 month period. Many think that we were rolling in obscenely large salaries in the past and this is due us. We know that while there were those therapists who were earning 6 figure incomes, the majority of us simply earned a comfortable living, in exchange for our dedication to the sick and injured. Now many of us are in dire straights financially, screening the phone calls from collection agencies, taking on second jobs, cutting back on everything nonessential.

 

OK folks, so are we OK? Are your fellow therapists OK? I have been so mentally exhausted over the whole mess that I haven’t written anything in a while. Like the last thing I wanted to do after fighting the political tigers all day was to come home and go over it all again, just trying to get the word out. But here I sit on my day off, steamed and disturbed. I want to know why our companies, those who we are still trying to turn a profit for, have not foreseen the potential danger of such stress within such a short period of time. Instead they just keep piling more on. Even the postal service conducts mandatory classes on stress management, how to identify stress in coworkers, and offers some type of rewards to their employees. Have any of you that are still practicing even gotten a pat on the back lately? I doubt it, rather more stress piled on by the day. You must do more, in less time. You must be 90% productive, yet still get the mounds of paperwork done. You may not stay after you clock out to finish the paperwork, nor may you take it home as that is illegal…yada yada yada…Oh yes, and we all get the; “If you can’t handle it, there’s the door” innuendo, so why complain too much.

 

If you would please forward this letter to any therapists you know who are not included on my list I would appreciate it. Also, we must all keep fighting, although it is really not in our typically passive makeup, instead of sitting back like battered therapists, waiting for the next beating.

 

Well all, sorry I have rambled on so. Time for another cup of coffee and to start enjoying my day off. Oh, by the way, Vencor donated $1500 to the lady’s children’s education fund. How’s that generosity from a multimillion dollar corporation. That will surely get the children far in life.

 

———————-

 

OK that pretty much sums it up!!!! But as you can see I don’t have a family or financial stress with mortgages and crap. Of course as I’ve said I may be broke after this trip, I really don’t care. I could be happy delivering pizzas and going back to college :)

 

On a positive note I got a message from a brief encounter on the road. Although it was just a short encounter, which was not long enough to form to much of an opinion of each other. She read my journals and told me that she really enjoyed what I wrote and used the term “kindred spirit” to help describe the connection to what I wrote. The more I think about it the more I realize that my writing is like the doorway into my soul, sort of a direct link. I have opened myself up this way so that anyone can see the real me. This is who I am without being clouded by physical appearances or anything else external that may give someone a bias as to who I am. What I’m trying to write is how I think and how I feel, these things are not always easy to say or express to others in the real world. Part of my trip is to explore who I am and ensure I am being honest with those around me and true to myself. I want to be open and honest with all those I encounter, which can be difficult since many of us are afraid as to what some others may think if they new things like… ummm… my past use of drugs for example. But I don’t care, this is who I am! and I am constantly changing as I learn and grow with new experiences in life.

 

After I finished with the net access and paid my $7.40 then went next door for lunch. As I was parking my bike on the bike rack, I felt a tap on my butt. What the… I turned around to see a big lab had stuck his nose on my butt. The owners of the dog, Floyd, were sitting at the small round table outside on the sidewalk. Their names were Jake and Kate, and we talked a couple of minutes prior to me going inside to order my lunch. While standing in line I got in a discussion with another guy that was asking about my bike ride. He was by himself so I asked if he wanted to join me for lunch. When the guy from the line inside sat down at the table, he introduced himself as Wakefield. What a coincidence this was the guy I spoke to on the phone when I called Adventure Cycling a couple of weeks ago. Although he no longer works there, and I guess Paul is the one that took over his position.

 

Back at Adventure Cycling, Greg was very busy so it was just a real quick, get my bike to the back, set up the back drop and take a couple of photos. The consent form I signed had a spot on it that asked about my trip, where from, where to, and other things like “most unusual thing you are carrying”. Well I had nothing unusual at all. The only thing I had that most cyclists wouldn’t carry would have to be that mini dictionary I bought when I was in North Platte, the day I walked to the mall. I decided to get one since I was getting frustrated when I would have a mental block on how to spell some of the simplest words. Anyway, I wanted to talk to Greg some about his trip from Alaska to South America in ’72 and how the whole concept for the Bike centenial began. But he was very busy so didn’t really have the time right now. And I’m sure he sees so many cyclists that come through here that I’m just another one of the many. It may be difficult to share my same enthusiasm with me being brand new to this whole thing and he being a veteran to it.

 

When I left, I accidentally turned the wrong way on Broadway and ended up on the wrong end of town. So I turned around and headed back through town then out of town. It was close to 1:30 by the time I left town. Just on the outside of town I was stopped by a guy that was asking about where I was going. He was getting ready to move from here after 6 years. He had quite a bit of money when he came but with low wages and high cost of living he was pretty much broke. This place was too expensive to live in and there were no decent paying jobs. So he was moving in a couple of days and was headed for Alaska in search of work. As I continued on, I passed the gas station where I had just met Kristen 3 days earlier and thought about how things worked out for me here in Missoula and the new friends I made.

riding-east-on-220

 

My route now is taking me on 200 east to 83 north. While heading up on 83 north I followed the Blackfoot River for awhile, you know “A River Runs Through It”. Of course this wasn’t the exact section but is the same river used in the movie. There were some small little waterfalls draining the glacial melt into the river. The smells and sound of water was very refreshing.

from-the-road-on-200

 

At the junction of 83 and 200 I stopped inside a convenient store and ate one nasty tastin’ chicken sandwich and drank a SOBE “Energy” beverage. I then used the pay phone to call and make sure all the newspaper articles were removed from my site. I was still a little upset when I thought about it. But those thoughts went away quickly as I rode up 83 north. It was very scenic and I’ll tell ya this is gettin’ better every day!! What a ride, what a journey , I can’t say enough how awesome this is.

salmon-lake

 

I passed Salmon Lake, and Placid Lake and both of which had State Park campgrounds. I continued riding and began to notice all the yellow that was everywhere throughout the plush green setting. The yellow flowers, the yellow “Missoulian” newspaper boxes, the yellow line on the road, and the yellow tractors I saw. So I tried to sing, and very poorly I might add, “Bright As Yellow” by The Innocence Mission. AHHHHH this is so kewl :) what a day! what a ride! I stopped and walked though a sparse section of the forest that was dappled with those dazzling, dancing daisies in the gentle breeze.

yellow-tractor

 

After I passed through the town of Seeley Lake, I found the Lolo National Forest Campground just a few miles north of town. I found a spot and set up my tent, it was getting late by now, 7pm. As the sun was hanging lower in the sky it began to get a bit cooler. I went in my tent and retired into my sleeping bag. As the sun sank behind the mountains, the dark night rose to embrace me into a restful sleep.

 

Wind – Calm

Temp – 75 degrees

 

Today – 64.98 miles

Total – 3731 miles

Avg. Speed – 10.0mph

 

DAY 74 – May 27, 1999

I awoke to a very cold morning and was glad to have my long underwear and wool socks on inside my sleeping bag. I stayed in my sleeping bag and attempted to write in my journal some. The sun took awhile to warm up the area since I was shaded in the thick green forest. I had some left knee pain last night and it never bothered while riding at all. It woke me up a couple times in the early morning but now it just has a slight ache, barely noticeable. This is the same knee I had a problem with on the trampoline and the one I injured prior to my journey. And of course I’ve been plagued by knee pains in the past from all the running I used to do and some left hip pain from that time in my life. Biking is far less traumatic on the body.

 

As I was getting ready to leave I noticed my BOB wheel was flat again. GEEZ what the crap! I pulled the tube out and found a small piece of glass that punctured through the worn tire. I think I need to get a new tire this one is starting to pick up everything from the road. I broke out my patch kit and patched the tube and pumped it up effortlessly to 80 psi with my new pump. WOW this thing works very good and quick. It was now noon as I rode out of the park and continued north on 83.

bikin-north-on-83

 

Along the road I passed many dead deer off to the side with their bodies long out of life and decomposing. That was the worst part of the ride, the scenery continued to be quite incredible as my pictures will show. I only hope I’m able to capture things accurately through my photos.

summit-lake2

 

After stopping at Summit Lake, I was a approached by a lady that had just pulled up in her car. “You’re going faster than me” she said. Apparently she had passed me several times as she took time to stop for photography along the road. Her name is D. and we talked at great length about photography which is her passion and what she teaches. I was able to see all of her photography equipment in the back of her car. A lot of blankets scattered over and around boxes. A cooler contained slide film to maintain the cool temperature required. A very large sturdy 7lb tripod, lenses, extension tubes and 2 cameras. She just bought her first auto focus camera. D. has always used fully manual cameras and had been skeptical of using automatic cameras. But this new rebel G 2000 has depth of field preview which is something that is a must for photographers I guess. We compared our cameras and she taught me a few things I didn’t know about mine. And after hmmmmmm.. I think an hour maybe longer, she had taught me about the use of extension tubes for macro photography, how to trade f-stops for aperture settings, and depth of field. WOW I’m getting an education on the road!

north-of-summit-lake

 

After she left I continued my ride north and thought. Arriving at Swan Lake National Forest Recreation Area and campground at 7 pm, I rode in looking for a camp site. There was a campout that charged me $10 to primitive camp here. And there are no facilities at all! Nothing, no showers just outhouses. What a rip off, I paid ten dollars for a very nice campground with a very nice bathhouse back near Drummond, the “Good Time Camping” campground. Oh well, I found an area near the stream of cold glacial water near an open field. I leaned my bike along some old gray logs then made a cozy little spot for me to sit in the grass against one of the logs. There I wrote in my journal and relaxed to the sound of the water and birds.

relax

 

When the sun escaped the sky, it began to get cooler again, so I prepared for another cold night in my sleeping bag. I left the rainfly off and looked straight up at the stars and slowly starting going into the stages of sleep with the hypnogogic stage hangin’ on for a long time before finally drifting away.

 

Wind – Calm

 

Today – 59.47 miles

Total – 3791 miles

Avg. Speed – 12.5mph

 

DAY 75 – May 28, 1999

I woke up with a little left knee pain again but not too bad. A dream was just fading as I opened my eyes, the rain had began pouring down and I was too tired to move, I couldn’t get up to put my rainfly on sending the rain into my tent. It was a relief to look up and see that it wasn’t really raining and it was only a dream. The morning was cold and cloudy as I waited for the sun to come out and dry off my tent. I walked over to my bike and got an oatmeal raisin powerbar for breakfast and then went into the outhouse to wash up with the “Wet Ones” I had with me. After washing my clothes in the very cold water, I decided NOT to wash my hair in there. Instead I set up my camelback on the handlebars of my bike and sat on the ground to wash my hair. Now I was clean and was on the road by 10 am.

 

I stopped at a convenient store about 1/2 mile from the campground and purchased 2 PowerAde’s, a sesame bagel and a SOBE Zen Blend tea. Hey you think I’ll bike my way to Zen by drinkin’ this stuff :) I filled my water bottles halfway with the PowerAde and then had the guy behind the counter fill them the rest of the way with water as well as the PowerAde bottles. Of course I advised him not to look inside the water bottles because of the stuff growing there :) So now I have 4 bottles that are diluted 50/50 with water. I stood at the counter talking while I ate my bagel and drank my tea. The guy had many stories of the years he spent living on Kodiak Island. He also informed me that Logan Pass is not open and may not be open for awhile since this has been a worse snow than the one they had 3 years ago.

signs-i-like

 

I continued riding north on 83, and yes still have incredible scenery that I’ve been discussing already. How many different words are there to keep describing all of this :) There will be photos posted soon enough if they are not here when you read this :) When I reached 209 I headed west and had a slight wind blowing to the west. I then turned north on 35 to the junction of 82. As I rode west on 82 the wind was now a crosswind blowing off the lake that was just to the south of me as I rode west. From the junction of 93 I rode about 2 miles and found the building for Counter Assault Bear Repellent I’ve been carrying with me strapped to my bike. At this point I had traveled 29.26 miles and averaged 14.0 mph

sign-i-like1

 

I met Bob White the Sales Representative, Anne Carter the Office Manager, Jennifer the Administrative Assistant, “Sales Guru and Shipping God” as Anne put it. They were all very funny and enjoyed adding humor :) Dan Higgins took me into the back to see how the stuff is made. That’s were I met Jeff and Shane “The guys that make the shit happen” as they put it. It was really cool to actually see the process from start to finish. From the 35 lb containers of pure Oleresin Capsicum to the finished bottle containing 1.73%. I guess the pure stuff is so “hot” it’ll burn your skin. The most interesting part is the lack of automated machinery instead they do most of it by hand, even putting each label on by hand. I was given a lot of information to dispel the myths and rumors I’ve heard over and over. I mailed the info I got to be scanned and will be added to this site to help inform others. You can also check them out at www.counterassault.com . They were all very funny and and friendly, and they even gave me 2 extra cans to help me on my journey.

through-kalispell

 

After leaving there I rode north into Kalispell and found the 1st Ave. Camera that D. had told me about. I was only looking to get a new mode select switch to replace the faulty one on my camera. But I’ve been interested in teleconverters for a long time and also some new filters. So Scott, the owner, showed me what he had and made me a deal I couldn’t pass up, $190 worth of stuff for $160. I justified the cost since this is a journey I may never make again in my life and I really want to make the most of this experience. But he seemed to be a little bit like a used car saleman type in a way.

 

While I was waiting to get my film developed, I rode to the MacKenzie River Pizza Co, like the one I went to in Missoula.

 

Back at 1st Ave. Camera, Heidi had finished developing my photos and we looked at them together. She also showed me some other filters I was interested in but decided not to get any more. Scott had given me a business card and it had their website on it: www.1camera.com

 

I rode into Whitefish, found the hostel and went inside to register. Glenn showed me around and explained how everything worked around here. Where the showers were and laundry etc…

non-hostile-hostel-in-whitefish

 

Outside on the sidewalk I met a girl as I was photographing the hostel and she was interested in my camera. She was about 18 or 19 and just went on to say about how she is looking for a camera to pursue her interests in photography. I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to share what I know and what others have taken the time to teach me on this journey of mine. But she didn’t seem a bit interested in hearing a word I said and just wanted to talk about her pursuits. I was trying to be nice but she seemed very into herself and really didn’t care to know a thing about this or any camera. She was very cold and soon turned away towards her other young friends that were out there smoking with her. Later when I ran into her upstairs I had my photos handy as I was sorting through them, I made another attempt to share what little bit of knowledge I do have. I asked if she wanted to see some of the photos I have and she said no as she went into a section of the hostel that had been sectioned off by a makeshift wall of bed mats. This was an area were several kids hung out in the 18 – 20 age range.

 

I went downstairs for the evening music in the cafe’ and had Jeremy make me a flafel wrap. The Mountain Girl Revival was up first singing acoustic songs with a folkish sound to it. Then it was Frank ??, don’t remember his last name. He was pretty good and is coming out with a CD soon. One line I remember in a song was something about how it’s not about the finish but the searching along the way. When the mailing list got passed around, I read the previous entry and the guy put a comment on it that said:

 

If God is love and …

Love is blind and …

Ray Charles is blind

Then… Ray Charles is GOD!

 

That was funny, the guy beside me that wrote it was Patrick, and avid rock climber from California and recently moved here to be a guide. We talked a bit and laughed about the entry he wrote. After the music was finished playing I talked to Frank the musician that was playing, he informed me that his CD will be posted on the Hay Stack Records web site at: www.haystackrecords.com . He talked about how he had planned a bicycle trip down the coast of California but had never done it, but hopes to in the future. I didn’t feel like we connected at all,even though we had similar interests. He didn’t talk to me long and quickly broke off the conversation to talk to some other people he knew. You know some people I can really connect with and others… it is weird but I just feel like I’m talking to them but not much feeling behind my words as they spill out of my mouth. I remember meeting another musician in Dallas that worked at REI. His name was Steve and I could’ve hung out for a long time just talking to him, and I feel he was the same way. He told me about his climb to the top of Mt. McKinley with his guitar and how he played it on the summit. We had the sense of adventure in common but there are things that go beyond common interests. It’s just a feeling you get just being around another person, not sure how to describe it but some people I feel repelled from and others I feel drawn to. The cafe’ was filled with a mix of people and some of them just seemed to be too much into themselves.

 

Back in the room I met Matt, we talked for a long time. He is here on a summer intern and will finish college next year with a degree in Outdoor Recreation.

 

Today – 53.60 miles

Total – 3845 miles

Avg. Speed – 13.0mph

 

DAY 76 – May 29, 1999

After waking up I went downstairs for a shower. When I got back to the room, Matt had just gotten up and we made plans to get breakfast at one of the cafes’ close by. As soon as Matt was ready we walked to the Buffalo Cafe’ for breakfast. I know this day of writing is going to suck, but I’m trying here… so bear with me :)

glacier-cyclery

 

Matt talked about the view from Big Mountain over the town and the lake. So we drove up there for the view and I took some photos, it was very cloudy so the will not be very good. When we got back to the hostel I went next door to the Glacier Cyclery and bought a strap to hold my pump securely, new tire levers since I broke my old ones, and a new rear tire for my BOB trailer. It was about $15.00 total.

 

Back at the hostel again I asked Glenn about getting net access. They had a computer downstairs with net access but it was in the cafe’ section that was closed on weekends. One of the kids close by had said something to Glenn like …maybe not exact words but this is what I remember..”The cafe’ is f#$%in’ closed on the weekends and if (a name was said here, don’t remember) catches anybody f#$%in’ down there, it’s there f#$%in’ ass”. Glenn walked back over towards me and I said “well guess I can’t after all huh”. Then the guys girlfriend and him got into an argument in the hall. She said a bunch of stuff like “f@#$ you, you f@#$kin’ @sshole, go ahead you take my f@#$ckin’ job, you f@#$kin’ prick…” etc… He left and then she got on the phone in the hallway and laughed as she told her friend how her and her boyfriend are fighting again. Glenn said “Well I’m going to take a shower.”

 

I went back in the room and Matt was gathering his stuff since he found a place to live. We shook hands goodbye and he wished me luck on my journey.

downtown-whitefish

 

For lunch, I walked downtown in search of food. I found the Corner Kitchen and got the Thai Chicken Peanut Pasta, mmmm. I was informed by someone there about another hostel in town, The Bunkhouse. This person told about the negative vibe surrounding the Non-Hostile Hostel and highly recommended I go to the other place. That was great news since I wasn’t feeling comfortable there at all in this other hostel. After eating I walked down there and found it just a couple blocks away. I met Wayne and Marisa, very friendly people and Marisa had this incredibly nice smile that was welcoming. Wayne told me to go inside and check out the hostel but I knew I didn’t have to look any further, both of them were just so friendly and I knew I had found the right place for me. Inside I found what a hostel should be like. A community kitchen to do your own cooking, a very comfortable atmosphere with a TV and VCR, shelves for book exchanges, and movie video to watch. Instead of having one large room filled with rows of bunks and sleeps about 20 people, they had sections of different rooms with bunks. It really did have a “home” feel to it. I’m there dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Since I had already paid to stay at the other hostel I walked back to finish my last night there. In that long, narrow room filled with bunks and 3 separate doors leading to the inside from the hall, I tried to write in my journal. That one section all the way to the end, where the makeshift wall is, where all those kids stayed, had the smell of incense permeating the room from it and I could hear the Joy Luck Club on the TV. Soon I decided a little more adventure than sitting in here listening to the Joy Luck Club. I walked to the Conoco station to inquire about the different cafe’s in town and which ones had healthy veggie type foods. There was another girl there I recognized from the cafe’ last night that was paying at the register. She told me that Serrano’s would be a good place to go. The veggie burrito is supposed to be really good there.

my-new-pannier

 

At Serrano’s I ordered the veggie burrito and talked to Jeff, my waiter. He moved here from Colorado and does web design in addition to working here. So naturally I had to give him my web address to checkout my site. He was very interested in my trip and seemed excited to know I kept an online journal so he could follow it. As I was leaving another guy that works there stopped me and said “so you’re the guy on the big bike ride” and then shook my hand. We talked very briefly and then he had to get back to work. I made it back to the hostel in time to listen to Saturday Night Live that was coming from that other side of the wall of mats.

my-bear-spray

 

I laid down thinking about how I could spend my life travelling and talking to other people. Everyone has a story to tell – something to share. Sometimes we are too busy to take the time to listen or too busy trying to tell others our own stories and not listening to what someone else may have to say. I believe a person has much more to gain by listening and sharing in another’s tale than by telling of their own experiences.

 

DAY 77 – May 30, 1999

bunkhouse-hostel

 

Now it was time to gather my stuff and go to my new place. Riding my bike a whole two blocks, I was at the Bunkhouse Hostel. The more I spoke to Wayne and Marisa, the more I liked them. What a neat, fun, couple. Both of them had been travelers and met ten years ago in Switzerland. They’ve been married eight years and a baby is due in three weeks. So, it appears their traveling days may be over for a while. Wayne said that they “Travel vicariously through the people that come here.” After settling in, I decided I needed some lunch.

 

The Baker Street Bistro was just two blocks east and offered delicious bagel sandwiches. I ordered a lox bagel with capers. About that time, Wayne popped in to order a bagel sandwich to go. Then Wayne had to go back home and left with sandwich in hand, I followed him back.

 

I was contemplating getting a laptop to make it easier to stay on top of my journal entries. The Toshiba Libretto is only 21 pounds so it would add minimal weight, but the expense! Not sure if I could justify it.

 

By now I’ve attempted conversation with the other “hosteller” to no avail. He doesn’t even look at me and never says a word unless I speak first. His responses are always made looking away for me in a low tone so I would have to say “What?” I quickly abandoned my attempts to be nice and engage in friendly conversation.

 

That evening, I walked to the Great Northern Pub and Café. The immediate section walking in was the bar and the café was at the back. I ate a veggie sandwich and tea then walked through town in search of Matt’s new place. I found it very easily with the directions he had given me when I saw him in the Conoco. We sat in the living room and watched The Simpson’s, wooo hooo:-) and then the X-Files. Matt will start working on his summer intern on Tuesday, which will last 3 months. After watching the X-Files, which kinda sucked this time, I walked back to the hostel and ate my last bit of raspberry Granola prior to going to sleep.

 

DAY 78 – May 31, 1999

Hmmm, another day in Whitefish, what to do.

 

It had begun to rain lightly and by early afternoon the light rain had changed to a heavy shower as I walked to the grocery store. I bought a banana, a fresh deli sandwich, and a SOBE green tea. Leaning against the wall out front, I ate my food then ran downtown, ducking out of the rain under the awnings. From there I ran about 3 blocks in the rain to where Matt lives. He was just getting ready to leave for Big Mountain so he could check on the time that he was supposed to show up tomorrow morning. We exchanged addresses so I could let him know when I completed my trip and then he gave me a ride back to the hostel. I looked through the movie selection and decided to watch The Men In Black. That was one I had yet to see and it was pretty funny. Wayne stopped in later in the evening and we talked for a little while. He pointed out the names of the mountains in the panoramic photo that hangs on the wall near the ceiling, by the kitchen. Wayne had been there and pointed out where villages were at the base of the mountain range, which were not visible in the photo. After he left I started watching the “Wallace and Gromit”, claymation movies, he recommended. Those are pretty funny :-)

 

That’s about it.

 

Bored yet?

 

DAY 79 – June 1, 1999

079-02

 

The sun drifted through the windows and woke me up several times in the early morning hours. By 6am I was wide-awake and found some instant oatmeal in the cabinet, left there by a previous guest. After eating a bowl, with sugar and cinnamon, I made a list of things to do:

 

o go to the post office to mail photos

o get recent film developed and sort

o check on Toshiba Libretto laptops

o maybe go to Kalispell? (to look for laptops)

o get journal caught up

triple-exposure-in-the-hostel

 

First, I walked to Cyberport, the local ISP. They allowed me net access to check my e-mail and to type some of my journal entries to email to my friend. I was able to complete 2 days before they closed at 5pm. Then I walked the block to the Trailhead. Deli, another good Café’! Homemade bread and all. :-) When I walked back to the hostel, I found Wayne outside sanding picnic tables. He plans on making it so guests can grill outside and eat on the picnic tables. Wayne took a break as he, Marisa, and I, sat on one of the picnic tables looking at some of my recent photos. It was a cool, sunny, afternoon as we relaxed out here behind the hostel. Marisa was very complimentary on some of my photos, which made me feel good since I am a novice. I gave them photos containing them and the hostel. Then, after deciding to stay a few more days, I paid Wayne $39.00 for 3 more days. I also included $1.00 for the charge to wash and dry a load of clothes. There is a washer and dryer in the hostel that operates on the honor system. OK, I think that’s enough babbling from me for one day. :-)

 

DAY 80 – June 2, 1999

I sat in the Swift Creek Cafe’ drinking a cup of coffee and listening to the group of locals telling the gossip. Afterwards, I decided to walk through some neighborhoods on my way to Cyber Port. I saw a house that had a sign which said “the studio-A center for creativity” and there was also an “open” sign, so I went in. Inside I met Aida, who told me about the studio and it’s purpose. There was all kinds of art displayed on the walls and on stands. Originally it started out being targeted toward the children, but now many adults are beginning to participate in art classes. It was a nice surprise to find this neat place. I continued to Cyber Port where they are giving me free internet access to e-mail some of my journal entries.

front-door-to-boogie-brown

 

Then I decided to stop back at Boogie Browns. It is just a neat little shop unlike anything else in Whitefish. The owners are Nikki and Diana, a mother and daughter team. They are partners in the business 50/50. Both of them were pleasant and fun to talk to.

inside-boogie-brown

 

Later in the evening I was bombarded by three new guests. Man I’ve had the place all to myself for a couple of days and now I have to share it ! One was the unusual guy Matt and I talked about from the other hotel. He just seemed very weird. I tried to talk to him but it was difficult to start a conversation. Finally he started telling me he was from Florida and was hired to be the “Golf Pro” for the summer at a local resort. He told me he injured his right elbow, so naturally as a Physical Therapist I began asking about the nature of the injury. I thought I could help give him some advice on how to take care of it. He started telling me how he was sitting on a stool that collapsed on him at the golf course. What I found humorous was the fact that while he told me this story, he was sitting sideways and twisted while leaning backwards on two legs balancing himself in the chair across the table. When I made a joke about that he got defensive. This is a guy that has looked to be in a bad mood every time I saw him. I was hoping to see if this guy had the capability to smile. Instead he defended how stable he was now and how the other chair wasn’t which broke causing him to fall on his right elbow. Then he quickly said “well actually I’ve said too much, my attorney and orthopedist advised me not to talk about it.” The he quickly gets up and walks around the room checking out the place. I tried to change the subject and asked “so you’ll be around for the summer ?” He responded, “I don’t know, I can’t answer those questions for you” with his back to me as he walked out the door. Oh God, this guy is probably suing for some ungodly amount of money for something so trivial. He didn’t appear to be in pain at all to me and when I had introduced myself earlier he shook hands with his right hand and had a firm grip. Man I’ve been airborne crashing down a mountain while mountain biking which rotated my pelvis a little and caused a slight leg length discrepancy. Not to mention the giant bloody wound that covered half my right forearm all the way to my elbow. But as soon as we straightened my front wheel good enough to be rideable, I kept going the rest of the afternoon. But hey I had an accident, and that was just one of many, but that’s life. I wouldn’t ever think about suing anyone. I strongly dislike people like that, but anyway I just hope his “attorney” doesn’t read this, he might be suing me for something.

 

The other two were Pete and Amy. They came downstairs after settling in and after the other guy was gone. Pete and Amy just happened to be on the same train together. Pete is on his way to Adventure Cycling in Missoula were he will participate in the Missoula to Anchorage, Alaska group bike ride. He is much older, retired, and filled with lots of nervous energy. A difficult person to talk to and he dominated everything being discussed. Geez I hate it when someone starts talking over me just as I start to say something. But that was just him and I’m sure he means well. He left and said he was going to drink a couple of beers, I thought yep that should calm down some of that nervous energy of his. Amy is on her way to a paid summer intern near Missoula. She will be getting a degree in microbiology and this summer will be spent studying lyme disease.

 

By 11pm I went to sleep.

 

I hope no one else is falling asleep reading my journal entries.

 

Oh yeah it’s been cloudy and rainy since Monday so I guess I picked a good week to take off.

 

DAY 81 – June 3, 1999

Finally! I got caught up with my journal entries, woo hoo! Although at times it is a laborious effort for me to write, I do find at times a certain attraction I feel towards the sound of pen rolling across the the fresh green paper of the steno pad I write in. The words in my mind are flowing out like liquid onto the paper and clearing up space for new thoughts. Last night I thought about exactly where it is I fit in this world. I imagined the whole world as a jigsaw puzzle and wondered where my piece fit. Mine is surely malleable so it can fit in many places – some better than others. But where will it be when this journey is over?

 

I decided to walk over to Boogie Brown’s so I could take in the ambiance and read another one of those Double Take magazines.

amy-and-amy

 

Later in the afternoon I walked 2 blocks to the Black Star Brewery. There, we hung out in the tasting room where they gave out free glasses of beer. They also have free internet access and a web cam, so anyone could have seen me there through their website: www.blackstarbeer.com.

 

Tomorrow will be a week since I arrived, my longest time off from riding.

 

And I’ve had this thought to share:

 

The road beckons me, as it has become my vice; it consoles me and at the same time, exhilarates my soul.

 

The sound of my bike – The shifter – The rattle from the trailer – the sound of the chain, churning through the gears – All have become a part of me as I pedal into Nirvana.

 

The journey is only half-begun and I still have a long road ahead.

 

DAY 82 – June 4, 1999

Amy and I went to breakfast at the bagel place. Then I helped her carry her stuff to catch the bus for Missoula. She will call Kristen and Chris when she’s there. I know she will find them to be as good of friends as I have. Amy is in search of a bike and I knew they could help her. We set the big backpack and duffel bag down beside the bus and shared our good-byes.

 

Inside Boogie Brown’s, I ran in to Frank, the guy I briefly met yesterday. His appearance would remind anyone of Kurt Russell in Point Break. Frank is an old surfer from California and has retained that whole persona. The laid back attitude, dark tan, hair just a little long in back with curls, and always laughing loudly. He has more recently in life become a photographer. We talked about photography and he offered to drive me to Kalispell so that I could return the 2X teleconverter that I decided I didn’t need. While in Kalispell we went to a photography show. We hung out all afternoon and then I returned to the hostel about 5:30pm.

 

Now I must get ready for my morning departure. I’m leaving, but yet I feel a force holding me back. Why am I having difficulty gathering my things and preparing?

 

That evening I went to Franks place on the lake for his little get together of people. By that time the sun had just set and it was a little dark. The reflection was perfect on the still lake as I sat on the picnic table near the water’s edge.

 

It’s 1am as I try to sleep in my bunk at the hostel.

 

DAY 83 – June 5, 1999

My plans as of 2 days ago would have me pedaling down the road at this moment. It is 7 am as I sit at the cool wood table inside the hostel. Two sounds occupy the room, the hum of the refrigerator and the tick of the clock on the wall behind me. Tick… tick… tick… as time escapes me. Time…why must I think of that now dreadful measure of existence? It is turning into my nemesis, growing stronger with each passing day. Miles are still many and time is essential to complete the journey while still able to partake in all the wonders my senses are yet to be laid bare to.

 

There has been previous mention, liking my journey to a vision quest. In my wildest fantasies, I would’ve never dreamed of encountering such a wonderful town. Although there have been many days of miserable conditions:

 

– The hot searing Florida sun that blistered my skin, leaving me with several sleepless nights.

 

– The narrow escapes from speeding bodies of steel, such as the semi-truck that slammed on its brakes skidding towards me.

 

– The 80 mph gusting winds, blowing me off the road in the desolate sand hills of Nebraska.

 

– The freezing rain that turned the digits of my hands and feet blue in the black hills of South Dakota.

 

I would endure these torments again knowing that places like this await me. And though I wasn’t searching for anything more than inner peace and harmony, many things far greater has crossed my path. When the Indians encountered their vision, that marked the end of their quest. But how can I stop now? The turmoil spins through my head as my yearning for adventure and the road struggles with my yearning to stay and live in this very unique town. A part of me doesn’t want to leave and this town calls my name in the wind. What to do? I wait for my nemesis to reveal the answer… tick…tick… tick…

 

I went to the Buffalo Cafe’ for breakfast then into Kalispell for a bit of wandering around.

 

DAY 84 – June 6, 1999

OK I’ll just keep this brief :)

 

That night I found there were 2 new guests at the hostel. One from London and one from Austria.

 

Today pretty uneventful.

 

DAY 85 – June 7, 1999

Ok I don’t want to consume too much of my time right now by writing so go ahead and skip to day 86. All I can say is that Whitefish is like a vortex that sucks you in and doesn’t let go very easily :-)

 

DAY 86 – June 8, 1999

I went to Whitefish Times this morning for a cup of coffee and a pastry.

While there I met Willow, she is another one of those people I keep meeting that radiates so much positive energy. So many wonderful people in the world and so little time to meet all of them. With some people I can tell instantly how “real” they are. I am trying to be sincere in looking at a persons soul and forgetting the whole male/female thing.

 

After I finished my coffee and pastry, I walked to Boogie Brown’s and shared in some laughter with Frank and Nikki. When Frank left I decided to write some in my journal at one of the small table there. So now I find myself sitting here in a little more thought of my trip, people and trying to figure out when I should leave. It is definite now, possibly Thursday, but no later than Saturday morning, will mark my departure. What is happening to me, I’m definitely much different than I was when I began this journey of mine. As I sat in Whitefish times earlier this morning, I wondered why I was even on this journey?

 

Having been raised by an un-emotional father, I’ve never expressed many emotions myself. I spent my life mostly in control of every emotion and analyzing events to keep from allowing the emotional aspect to take over. It wasn’t until 4 years ago did I allow the first tear of sadness to stream down my cheek. A good friend had died and I felt something I’ve never felt before, a sharp knife began piercing through my chest. That marked the beginning of a different journey, one that has since allowed me to feel my emotions to their fullest. So here I am…

 

One of my latest ideas is to find a way to open a private practice and offer services to everyone at a low cost. It would cater to mostly private pay and be affordable enough to allow anyone to get care they need. Services could also include wellness, health education, and stress reduction. People could come and stay for long periods of time in a hostel that I could build next to the clinic. Charge $10 a night for the hostel so anyone could afford to take a stress-relieving vacation and learn how to live a healthier, happier life. People who couldn’t afford it could barter somehow :)

 

Well enough of my ramblings for now. :)

 

DAY 87 – June 9, 1999

I have really tried to keep my journal an objective account of this journey, trip, expedition, quest, whatever you call it; there was a time… somewhere in the beginning, I’m sure of it. And now for me to think of these pages I’ve written, I wonder how it has come to this? To so boldly allow my own inner self to be exposed as I attempt to cross the continent by a bicycle. All I can say is that everyone has struggles, inner and outer, only most don’t reveal them, rather suppress them. I know many may think I’m crazy, but as I allow these things to flow out, an indescribable inner peace appears in their place. So this is truly me as I embrace the world. Just one complication… when I call home to my moms I’m suddenly thrust back into the real world… my mail… bills… phone calls… expectations… for me to finish this, I find that I must break contact for longer periods of time. This may be the only time I ever do something like this and it is important for me to finish this with minimal contact to anyone that draws me back to the reality I’ve escaped. Before I left, I began reading “The Ukimwi Road” by Dervla Murphy. This lady broke all contact and told no one where she was going as she biked through Africa. I respect that kind of courage. My only contact for awhile will be through my journal entries as I begin the best and most challenging part of this journey.

 

I went to Whitefish times where Willow introduced me to a couple of her friends. Come to find out the guy is a good friend of Chris’s from Missoula, he told me Chris was just in town and left on Sunday… “No Way” I said. He already knew a lot about me from Chris, and he couldn’t believe that I was doing this trip with the little knowledge of bike maintenance that I have. I assured him that I knew enough to get myself out of any jam, like when I had to convert to a single speed in the Black Hills.

 

He was studying for his college courses, and guess what they were? Physical Therapy! Yes he is enrolled in a PT program and I really tried to maintain a positive outlook on the profession :)

 

DAY 88 – June 10, 1999

I heard about a need for a PT in this area today. Initially it was very appealing, since a temporary contract person was coming in for a couple of months. That would give me enough time to complete this journey and return here to work. Because you must know by now that I must return here as soon as my journey is through :) I spent the day preparing a resume’, sending and receiving faxes, and working on state licensure. Then when I called later in the evening, 6pm, the time I was told to call back and discuss the position, something didn’t feel right. All day I was very excited about this possibility, I could return here and have a job. But the conversation just did not give me the right feeling inside. Everything was all the sudden getting too complicated. The earliest I could be interviewed would be Tuesday and there is no guarantee I would be hired since I was competing with other applicants. Something inside was telling me that this was not the right thing to do now. Looking towards my inner self, I seek direction. The only answer that comes is for me to finish the journey. There is still much for me to learn so that I can achieve heights like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and break away from those barriers that prevent me from truly being free.

 

Too many people are stuck… stuck in a job they don’t like… stuck in a bad marriage… stuck in a wrong town. I know if I follow my inner self, it will eventually lead me to the right people and places. But first I must be true and honest to myself so that I can be true and honest to those around me. Once I can fully break free from the mental barriers keeping me from that state, I know this journey will be completed, no matter where I may be geographically. Although I feel that I’ve been very open and honest to all those around me, something inside is telling me that there are many lessons I still need to learn before I finish.

 

DAY 89 – June 11, 1999

Last night, just prior to falling asleep, I realized what bothered me about the phone call with the lady regarding the PT position. She never once asked about my skills or what patient diagnoses I’ve worked with. Her only concern was if I was familiar with the specific paperwork forms they used. That really bothers me, someone that doesn’t care enough about patient care to make the therapists skills a priority. Instead I’ve seen many places hire therapists that are good with paperwork regardless of their skills as a clinician. I encountered a therapist one time that was excellent with the paperwork but was finally caught fraudulently billing for patients he did not see. That is the problem, all management cares about is a good pencil pusher, no one gives a crap about patient care anymore.

willow

 

I made it back to the hostel at 5pm and began getting everything ready for my departure tomorrow. In the hostel now are Dave, Joe, Gelinda, Sean, and Shari. Dave has been here for several days now and is looking for a place to rent in the area. He is a bartender and just moved here from Lake Tahoe. Joe is the guy I had a problem communicating with about a week and a half ago (the psycho weirdo, that has also had the police remove him from Whitefish Times). Gelinda is a lady from Austria taking time away from work as a psycho therapist and probation officer, a very fun person to talk to. Sean and Shari are a couple from Brisbane, Australia. They are full of positive energy, always smiling. I tried to talk to them in my very bad Australian accent :-) Wayne and Marisa stopped by tonight to hang out with everyone. Dave was gone to work and Joe was at The Great Northern, leaving the rest of us downstairs talking. Time had gone by quickly, so at 10pm I was getting tired and sat in the living room sipping tea in an effort to be more awake. But soon, my zest for conversation began to falter and I had to say good night to everyone.

 

DAY 90 – June 12, 1999

The small town of Whitefish has a huge story to tell. One so large that it could fill the pages of a book. A place that initially allures one with its charm and friendly people. As time passes, it takes hold and pulls you in with folks that make you feel like family.

 

When visiting Whitefish (www.whitefishmt.com) it isn’t enough just to visit the unique shops and cafe’s. It is the unique people that make this an incredible little town resting by a lake in the shadows of several mountains. The town is difficult to make a living in. One resident told me he has never made more than $13,000.00 a year, “You just learn how to get by on very little.” Even professionals, like doctors and lawyers earn substantially less. Living here is a lifestyle adjustment for most that move here. Which many of it’s residents are from somewhere else, but after passing through here, they’ve found it hard to leave. There is a connection to the mountains, the lake, and of course the very beautiful Glacier National Park just outside of town. Of course the winters here provide excellent skiing and snowboarding for those that enjoy those activities. A young girl had just come to this town for the first time and told me “I’ve been here 4 days and now I’ve decided to move here. I want to tell my friends to move here…well actually, I want to keep this place a secret,” she said with a smile.

 

 

My Favorites:

Place to stay: The Bunkhouse Travelers Inn and Hostel (406) 862-3377

Places to eat: Buffalo Cafe’ is a favorite among locals, especially for breakfast, Whitefish Times has the most comfortable, relaxing atmosphere.

boogie-brown

 

Places to hang out:Boogie Browns, Whitefish Times

inside-whitefish-times

 

These places allow you to sit and relax while sipping coffee and engage in conversation. The message is, “Take your time, enjoy the moment, and relax.” Which is unlike other places that make you feel rushed while sitting in uncomfortable chairs.

Place to get film developed: Burch’s One Hour Fast Photo Lab. Corner of Spokane Ave. and Second. Marie is very good and highly recommended by local photographers

great-harvest-bread

 

Places for free stuff: Black Star Brewery (12-6 Mon.-Sat.) free beer and net access. Great Harvest Bread Co. Free slices of bread, cinnamon rolls, and cookies.

free-beer-in-the-black-star-brewery

Public Library has free net access for 30 minutes

local-isp

I would like to thank Cyber Port, the local ISP, for allowing me to gain net access at their office. Everyone there, as well as all the other places in town, are very friendly. Be careful in this town, it is a vortex that will pull you in and take hold.

 

The respite has come to an end. Actually, it should have ended several days ago. Sometimes it’s difficult to leave a place. Whitefish has taught me a lot about myself. Upon arriving, I was at the peak of my searching for something else. Something beyond a negative world as portrayed by the media. The people that I encountered met a different person than I used to be. My humorous aspect was beginning to become buried by my deeper thinking. Now I realize I must find a good balance with all my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. But the day I quit learning the lessons that life has to offer, and striving to become a better person in this human experience, would have to be the day I leave earth. At times I think I’m a bit crazy in this new way of thinking I’m adapting. But those are the times I happen to meet people that share my own philosophy.

 

I got up early this morning to allow myself time for errands and preparation.

 

Get film developed

Go to post office

Go to ATM

Buy Powerbars, Gatorade, etc…

 

After finishing everything I needed to do, I stopped by Boogie Brown’s to leave 4 rolls of slide film for Frank. I decided it would be too difficult to get processed and have prints made from them. Frank…Now there’s a story! Whenever I see him, he always has a smile and a loud laugh. The day the two of us went to Kalispell together, he was constantly stopping every time he saw someone he knew. The first person we encountered was Pete. Pete was cycling towards Kalispell so Frank pulled off the road to say Hi. The incredible thing is that Pete is legally blind, relying greatly on hearing to ride. In talking to him, he doesn’t look into your eyes because it’s difficult for him to see you just a few feet away. In the winter, Frank helps to guide him on the ski slopes. What a courageous man to be so active and yet so blind. There were several other people we saw that Frank knew and Frank always had time to talk and share his laughter. He had complimented me several times on the type of person that I am. At one time he stated that I should give a lecture since people seemed to be drawn to me. I didn’t see it like that, rather it is I that am drawn to people. One of the things I’m trying to do is make everyone around me my teacher, and to learn something from them. Frank, as well as everyone else I encountered here, has taught me a lot.

 

I sat in the warm, bright sun on the upstairs balcony, in a green plastic chair with my legs propped up on the small round table. The bike, trailer, and all my stuff was in front of me leaning against the hand rail. The bright warmth radiated in the pristine blue sky. This was the absolute best day since my arrival 15 days ago. I leaned back, closed my eyes, and tried to live in the moment…thinking of nothing. But my legs were aching to be pedaling again. I tried not to think of it, but the bike was right there in front of me. It felt as if my legs were screaming and longing to be on the road. The desire kept growing and I could no longer sit. I quietly carried everything down the steps to leave, when Dave woke up from his nap. We shook hands, he wished me luck, and I was off…it was 1:15pm.

good-bye-usa

Yes! This felt absolutely fantastic to be pedaling again. I pedaled hard and fast, it felt good to be riding again. My legs kept pumping harder and faster, I couldn’t push myself hard enough. Then, by the time I reached 15 miles, my legs and butt were aching from such an intense push. Man, take a couple of weeks off and your body can go to hell. After a quick break I continued to ride, trying not to think, just be free, relaxed, and in the moment. I can let go and accept things for what they were and not expect a future of anything, just right now and what I see ahead on the road.

 

Day 90 continues in British Columbia, Canada…

 

Today – 63 miles in Montana

Avg. Speed – 11.0mph

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